Food items go out of stock in Bathinda

Panic-buying to blame; millers seek advance payment; truckers hike tariff

Food items go out of stock in Bathinda

Balwant Garg

Tribune News Service

Faridkot, March 27

The curfew clamped in rural areas to check the spread of coronavirus was relaxed for the first time to let people buy essential commodities on Friday. Deputy Commissioner Kumar Saurabh Raj said the curfew was relaxed from 6 am to 9 am for buying grocery items, medicines, milk and vegetables. This relaxation has also been allowed in urban areas.

This relaxation was allowed a day after the state government’s idea of “home delivery” of grocery items and medicines failed to work. The relaxation in the curfew made the purchasing of essential items easy for consumers but the problem with shopkeeper on Friday evening was that most of the food items were out of stock due to panic-buying.

“We struggled hard to satiate crushing demand for food items, as there is scary scene at the grocery stores. However, the supply of these items from millers and wholesalers will take days to meet,” said a retailer of grocery items in Kotkapura. Fear is palpable. The more empty shelves people see, the more panic-buying ensues, and the more food is out of stock.

Truckers scared of police

In this time of crisis, truckers are scared of the police after many videos of police using force on curfew and lockdown violators, went viral on social media. The transport companies are reluctant in keeping the supply chains running to meet surging coronavirus-driven demand for essential consumer items.

“We are not concerned about the increased risk of contracting the virus in making the transportation of essential items, but are fearful of the police action,” said a transporter in Bathinda, speaking to The Tribune. This transporter used to supply edible oil from a mill in Bathinda to different parts of the country.

The restrictions have made our jobs more difficult, forcing some truck drivers to cook for themselves in trucks, as restaurants across the nation have been shut. In other cases, it has left them without a place to wash their hands or park and sleep at night, so truckers have increased their tariffs.

For transpiration, entailing these risks, sugar, edible oil millers and producers of many other essential grocery items have started forcing wholesalers and retailers to make advance payment ahead of its normal schedule such as paying for these items at the time of placing orders. Millers want advance payments to cover the risk of loss during transportation.

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